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September 12, 2013

Pitt falls in U.S. News rankings

usnewsPitt fell four places to No. 62 among national universities and dropped two places to No. 21 among public national universities in the revamped U.S. News & World Report annual best colleges rankings.

The 2014 rankings, which reflect changes in methodology, were released Sept. 10. According to U.S. News, the methodology changes that shook up the rankings reduced the weight of input factors that reflect a school’s student body and increased the weight of output factors that indicate how well a school educates its students.

National university rankings

This year the top 10 among national universities were: Princeton; Harvard; Yale; Columbia; Stanford and the University of Chicago (tied for No. 5); Duke; Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Penn (tied for No. 7); California Institute of Technology and Dartmouth (tied for No. 10). The publication defines national universities as offering a full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and PhD programs, and emphasizing faculty research.

In the 2014 rankings, Pitt was tied with Brigham Young-Provo, Clemson, Syracuse, University of Maryland-College Park and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Last year Pitt ranked No. 58 (tied with Fordham, Southern Methodist, Syracuse and University of Maryland-College Park).

Of the 11 Pennsylvania schools that made the 2014 national universities ranking, Penn ranked highest at No. 7, followed by Carnegie Mellon (No. 23); Penn State-University Park (No. 37); Lehigh (No. 41); Pitt (No. 62); Drexel (No. 97); Duquesne and Temple (tied at No.121); Indiana University of Pennsylvania (No. 177); Widener (No. 181), and Immaculata (No. 190).


Public national university rankings

Among public national universities, Pitt ranked No. 21 in the 2014 best colleges ranking. Last year the University tied for No. 19 with the University of Maryland-College Park in this category.

Topping the public schools list was University of California-Berkeley. Rounding out the top 10 were: UCLA and the University of Virginia (tied for No. 2); University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; William and Mary; Georgia Institute of Technology; Penn State and, tied for No. 9, UC-Davis and UC-San Diego.

Three Pennsylvania public universities were ranked among the top public national universities: Penn State (No. 8), followed by Pitt (No. 21) and Temple (No. 60).


According to the rankings, Pitt’s average freshman retention rate (based on freshmen who entered from fall 2008 to fall 2011) was 92 percent and its six-year graduation rate 79 percent (based on classes that started from fall 2003 to fall 2006).

More than 39 percent of Pitt classes have fewer than 20 students.

The University’s total enrollment was 28,769. Its fall 2012 acceptance rate was 56.1 percent. The 25th-75th percentile SAT/ACT scores were 1170-1340.

Rankings indicators

The report’s academic quality indicators were comprised of: undergraduate academic reputation (weighted 22.5 percent); retention (22.5 percent); faculty resources (20 percent); student selectivity (12.5 percent); financial resources  (10 percent); graduation rate performance (7.5 percent), and alumni giving rate (5 percent).

Methodology changes

Several changes were made to the methodology for calculating this year’s rankings.

• Student selectivity, which had been weighted at 15 percent of the overall rankings, was reduced to 12.5 percent. In addition, some of the student selectivity indicator’s components were adjusted. Citing a decline in the importance of high-school class standing in admissions decisions and a rise in the importance of SAT and ACT scores, U.S. News reduced the weight assigned to the high-school class standing of newly enrolled students (from 40 percent to 25 percent) and increased the weight of SAT and ACT scores (from 50 percent to 65 percent) in its student selectivity indicator.

• For national universities and national liberal arts colleges, the weight of graduation and retention rates was increased to 22.5 percent from 20 percent.


For the full list of rankings, which includes 1,376 schools, visit

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 2

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